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Comet

Created by:

Jack Cole

Real Name:

John Dickering
Joined Mighty Crusaders:

Adventures of the Fly #31
First Appearance:

Pep Comics #1, January 1940

Origin:

John Dickering discovered a gas that is "fifty times lighter then hydrogen." He injects the gas into his bloodstream until he can make great leaps in the air, and when he makes his eyes cross, two powerful beams come out and disintegrate whatever he looks at.

History:

When John Dickering began his scientific experiments, he didn't know at the time that one of those experiments was going to change his life forever. During his experiments, he discovered the formula for a new lighter-than-air gas, but he wasn't sure of how humans would be affected by direct contact with the gas. He chose the most unorthodox way of testing the effects of the gas on humans by injecting himself with the gas, risking his own life in the process. He found that after injecting himself with the gas, he was able to leap tremendous distances. Further injections made him buoyant enough that it practically gave him the power of flight. But there was a major catch to those injections of that gas.

That catch came in the form of an unforeseen - and very deadly - side effect. The gas had collected in his eyes and threw off two beams. When the beams crossed, they combined to form a deadly energy beam that disintegrated anything he looked at. Fortunately, Dickering found out that the beam was ineffective against the element Silicon or any Silicon based material such as glass. By simply wearing eyeglasses or glass goggles, Dickering was able to protect those around him from being harmed by those deadly eyebeams.

Dickering found that anyone possessing those powers could all too easily become a threat. So he destroyed the formula for the gas to keep it from falling into the wrong hands. He also decided to use his newly gained powers for good and to that end, he decided to become a crime-fighter. He then donned a strikingly designed costume of red and black which featured a raise able glass visor attached to his cowl to allow him to use his powerful eye-beams. Thus, John Dickering began his new career as one of the earliest of the great "mystery-men", the Comet.

In his first recorded case, the Comet was alerted to a plot to use typhoid germs as a weapon of murder by an old friend of his. He then flew to Chicago and learned that the germs were being used in a series of murder-for-hire plots against various people and promptly prevented each of those murder attempts by destroying the germs. He also then killed the carrier of the typhoid germs by disintegrating him with a blast of his "dissolvo-vision" (the term the Comet used for the deadly disintegration ray emitted by his eyes). Shortly afterward, the Comet headed for a showdown with members of the ringleader's gang, only to be lured into a trap where he imprisoned in a glass filled dungeon (The gangsters found out that the Comet's disintegration ray was ineffective against glass in a previous encounter when he disintegrated the house they were in and found that only the window glass was unharmed.). He managed to escape the trap and then obliterated the gang with a blast of his dissolvo-vision. He then confronted their leader - a criminal named Dr. Archer - and then flew him into the skies above and hurled him to his death on the grounds below. Thus ended the first recorded adventure of the Comet (Pep Comics #1).

The Comet's next two cases were to be the ones that would change his life and his career forever. He flew to Florida to investigate a series of occurrences in which a sinister looking face began appearing in the clouds above Florida which was soon followed by the disappearance of an armored car on each occasion. The Comet flew to Florida on the hypothesis that the person responsible for these occurrences might be directing them from a base somewhere in the Everglades only to be caught in an artificial whirlpool and captured by two men working for a criminal mastermind calling himself Satan. They then soldered his visor closed and threw him into the underground lake. Leaving the Comet to die of drowning in the underground lake, Satan and his men left to begin another mission of piracy.

Shattering his glass visor on a stone wall, the Comet broke free from his potential watery grave and trailed them to Miami. He found out that Satan and his men created this ruse using two blimps. One of the blimps projected a motion picture image of a face on the clouds with a loudspeaker blaring out the dialogue while the other blimp used a special magnetic device to grab the armored cars from the ground. The Comet then blasted the first blimp with his disintegration eye-beams, destroying it and all those aboard. Then he trailed the other blimp and destroyed it just as it was about to hijack an armored car (Pep #2).

He then landed on the ground to help search for Satan's body. He found that all those aboard those two blimps died when he blasted them from the sky. Thinking that Satan was dead, a weary Comet headed for home. After he arrived home, he was knocked unconscious by chloroform, imprisoned in a glass tube, and brought to a hideout in California. He then found out that Satan was still alive and was planning a new series of crimes. After getting him into a weakened state, Satan then had a crooked hypnotist named Zadar hypnotize the Comet into becoming a mind slave with the compulsion to commit crimes and kill those who would get in his way.

His first act as a criminal was to rob the Utica Textile factory in Los Angeles. He killed a guard by throwing him to his death from a scaffold. He then found himself in a battle with police officers who had arrived on the scene. This led to a battle in which he killed the policemen at the scene with blasts of his deadly eye-beams. This was soon followed by a series of spectacular crimes in which the mind-controlled Comet robbed and killed under Satan's and Zadar's influence. Thinking that Satan was keeping him from his fair share of the loot from the Comet's robberies, Zadar had the hypnotized Comet kill Satan with a blast of his "disolvo-vision". The hypnotized Comet then unintentionally killed Zadar with a blast of "disolvo-vision" which led to him coming out of his hypnotized state. he then spotted a newspaper headline that detailed his crimes that he committed under the villains' influence. The Comet vowed there and then to clear himself of all of the crimes he committed under their influence of die trying (Pep #3).

Shortly afterward, the Comet decided to turn himself in to the authorities for the crimes he committed under Zador's influence in the hope that they would believe him. But after he turned himself in, word got out that the Comet was being held in the local jail, and that led to a lynch mob descending on the jail ready to lynch the Comet. He then blasted his way out of the jail and flew off with the mob and police shooting at him. After being wounded by the gunfire in his escape, the Comet flew to a small mining town where he fell into unconsciousness. He was found and brought back to health by an old miner who believed his story about his innocence. The old miner then asked him to help the mining community by convincing the mine owner, a man named Riley to invest in new ventilation for the mine to save the miners from silicosis (a condition caused by silica dust building up in the lungs). After the Comet saved the lives of several miners in a cave-in, Riley then trapped the Comet in the mine and tried to kill him with poison gas. The Comet then blasted his way out of the mine with his "disolvo vision". As he reached the surface, Riley tried to throw a stick of dynamite at the Comet. The Comet then blasted the stick with his eye-beams, killing Riley in the resulting explosion. He was then able to convince Riley's associates to invest in the necessary improvements to the mine (Pep #4).

Later, he would meet another person who believed his innocence in the form of Thelma Gordon, a newspaper reporter for The Daily Star who soon became the woman in his life. He met her as he began investigating a series of crimes by Stinger Lee, a gangster who was using a blackout ray to help commit his crimes. He spotted him as Lee and his men tried to kill the inventor of the blackout ray. After rushing the inventor to the hospital, the Comet and Thelma Gordon tracked down Lee and his gang as they committed an armored car robbery using the blackout ray. The Comet caught up to Lee and his men as they tried to escape by speedboat under the cover of the blackout ray. The Comet then blasted the boat with his deadly eye-beams, destroying the boat and killing Lee and his men (Pep #5). Afterward, Thelma began trying to help the Comet prove his innocence while trying to write him up as a hero rather than as an outlaw.

For the Comet, it was bad enough that he was now hunted by the police for the crimes he committed under Zador's influence. But what made it even worse was something that could have very easily gotten him in dutch with the law if he didn't even commit those acts, his homicidal attitude towards criminals. Unlike such contemporary "mystery men" as the Shield or the Wizard (not to mention such later crime busters as the Hangman or the Web) who preferred to let the legal system be the executioners of the criminals they cornered; the Comet preferred to act as judge, jury, and executioner of any of the criminals he encountered. He thought nothing of letting the system handle any of the criminals he cornered when he could just simply disintegrate them with a blast of his deadly eye-beams. These actions alone would have made him a fugitive even if Satan and Zador didn't hypnotize him and turned him into a cop-killing criminal. As a result of both the circumstances involving Zador and his own homicidal tendencies towards criminals, the Comet became both a fugitive from justice and a ruthless killer vigilante that even average citizens as well as criminals feared.

It all would come to a head for the Comet in mid 1941 shortly after he delivered one of Big Boy Malone's men to the police for grilling, fleeing in a hail of police gunfire after the delivery. He flew to his apartment to find Thelma Gordon waiting for him. She tried to talk him into giving up his career as the Comet and settling down with her as scientist John Dickering. She felt that he had more than atoned for the crimes he committed - including the murders of policemen - under Zador's influence. But he refused knowing that his conscience wouldn't let him give up his career. To quote him: "No Thel! We could never be happy. My conscience wouldn't allow me. While I live, I've got to try and make amends!".

Shortly afterwards, he went in to change from his Comet uniform to his street clothes only to be spotted by his brother Robert who stopped in for a visit. After revealing his identity to his brother, John asked Bob to squire Thelma around town while he caught up on some lab work. And for the next week or so, Bob did just that. This eventually led to the brothers getting into an argument over Thelma and Bob storming out of John's apartment, only to be waylaid by two of Bib Boy Malone's men mistaking him for John Dickering; who was to testify against Malone's man.

Seeing Bob being taken hostage, led to John pursuing Bob's kidnappers as the Comet. Pursuing them, he blasted a tire from their car with his "dissolvo-vision" causing it to crash into a lamppost. Bob quickly broke free of his captors, only to be shot at by them. The Comet swooped down on the gangsters, shielding his brother by having the gangster's bullets strike him. Policemen drawn by the gunfire began shooting at the hoodlums and it quickly escalated into a shootout.

In the confusion, Bob Dickering quickly scooped up his brother and rushed him to his laboratory via a fire escape. With Thelma Gordon and his brother Bob at his side, the dying hero spoke his last words:

"Easy Thel! We've got to go sometime! My turn now! ... you two stick together! Kind of a memorial to me. G.. Goodbye, Bob! Bye Thel... aaahh! Thus John Dickering alias the Comet died of his injuries. It was his death that lead to Bob Dickering launching his own crime busting career as the Hangman (Pep #17).

This should have been the end of the story of the Comet, but surprisingly it wasn't. For decades later, rumors began to spread that the Comet didn't die that day in 1941, much of this has since become the stuff of urban legend. And it all started with the emergence of a new hero calling himself the Comet.

This new Comet emerged a few years after the death of the original Comet. He first made his existance known when he tried unsucessfully to court the superheroine known as Fly-Girl (The Adventures of the Fly #30). In that initial appearance, the Comet claimed he was the former ruler of the planet Altrox and had come to make Fly-Girl his bride. Shortly afterwards, his next appearance led to the forming of a legendary super team.

His next appearance came as the Spider made a series of attempts on the life of the superhero known as the Fly (who at the time was using the name of the Fly-Man). It occurred when the Spider sent a giant mechanical claw to steal a pavillion of the World's Fair. The Fly then grew to giant size and tried to destroy the claw. As he was destroying the claw, the Spider tried to electrocute the Fly by sending a deadly electrical current through the claw. Fortunately, the Comet flew on the scene and destroyed the claw with a disintigration ray fired from his "power gloves" (Fly-Man #31). Shortly afterwards, the Comet then teamed up with the Fly, Fly-girl, the Shield (William Higgins), and the Black Hood for three adventures (Fly-Man #s 31-33) before formally organizing as the Mighty Crusaders.

Unlike the original Comet - who had chemically enduced superpowers - the new Comet relied on scientific devices for his super feats. The orange and green (originally red and white) clad hero flew with the aid of a specail anti-gravity helmet (called a rainbow helmet because of its spectrum design). The helmet was the power source ofr his cief weapons, specail gloves which had miniture projectors at the fingertips which allowed him to fire a variety of rays.

The new Comet stayed in the crimefighting spotlight for a short period, both on his own and as a member of the Mighty Crusaders (The Mighty Crusaders{first series} #s 1-7). After the team disbanded, the Comet disappered from view as well. When the team was reactivated years later, The Comet was a member as well (The Mighty Crusaders {second series} #1). But during their first case after their reactivation - their battle with the Brain Emperor and Eternno the Tyrant - the Comet disappeared and the original Comet - looking much like he did back in the 1940's - surprisingly returned to action just in time to help the Crusaders defeat the villains (The Mighty Crusaders {second series} #3).

But was the Comet who helped the Crusaders defeat the Brain Emperor the same Comet who died in 1941? Did he have a connection with the second Comet? And what became of the ssecond Comet? Much of this has fueled many rumors about the Comet and has since become the stuff of urban legend. But surpisingly, there is some truth to the rumors about the Comet. And the truth itself is the stuff of urban legend.

Sometime back in late 1940, the Comet was struck by a fireball that teleported him trillions of miles away from Earth to the planet Altrox. There he met the planet's ruler, Queen Naija and learned the reason why he was brought to that world. He was brought to Altrox to destroy the threat of the "mects", robots that were initially built by the Altroxians to perform heavy labor but instead tried to take over the planet. The Comet fought against the mects, destroying most of them with blasts of his disintigration eyebeams (The Mighty Crusaders {first series} #2). After the fight with the mects, the Comet was teleported back to earth and continued his crime-fighting career. But in mid 1941, the Comet met his untimely death at the hands of Big Boy Malone's men and as Bob Dickering and Thelma Gordon watched as his body disintigrated at the moment of his death, thinking that his deadly powers had completely consuemed hs mortal remains (The Comet #1).

But in actuality, that disintigration was caused by an Altroxian teleportation device that teleported the dying Comet to Altrox where the scientists of that world were able to resusitate him. Although they were able to bring him back to life, he remained comotose for many months in a special chemically filled chamber as he recovered from what were fatal wounds on Earth. When he awakened, he renewed his relationship with Queen Naija and began a new life for himself on Altrox.

He found that some elements in the atmosphere on Altrox began to destroy the effects of the gas that gave him his powers. The first effects to go were the mental effects that caused him to develop the homicidal tenedencies that led to him killing so many criminals. The other effects were that it caused his powers to lessen over time so that they later vanished completly. He also found that his aging processs had slowed to a trickle due to both the effects of the life-saving chemical bath and the Altroxian atmosphere.

After his resusitation John Dickering began his new life on Altrox by marrying Queen Naija. But that new life came to a sudden end years later when Naija was killed by the last of the Mects. After her death Dickering became Altrox's ruler and adopted the devices that he would later use when he eventually returned to Earth. After a few years, Dickering resigned as ruler of Altrox and returned to Earth and tried to start a new life for himself once again (The Mighty Crusaders {first series} #2). Since a considerable amount of time had passed - more than a few decades - since he last appeared as the Comet, he was able to launch a crime busting career as the new Comet.

For a short time, the Comet fough evil both on his own as an active member of the Mighty Crusaders. A few years later when he helped reactivate the team, he mostly took on an advisary role with the new version of the Crusaders (The Mighty Crusaders {second series} #1).

The reason for this was due to the fact that Dickering found out that traces of the gas that gave him his original powers were building up in his bloodstream. He feared that not only will they build up to the point that his original powers would return, the homicidal tendancies that came with them would return as well. Later, the Brain Emperor managed to breach the Mighty Crusaders' headquarters and knocked the Comet unconcious with a blast of mental energy (The Mighty Crusaders {second series} #2). When he recovered from the blast, the Comet found out that the Brain Emperor's mental energy sped up the process of the build up of the original gas formula in his bloodstream and caused his deadly origina powers to return.

With his original powers restored, the Comet - now clad in his original red & black costume - flew to Atlantis along with the Shield (Joe Higgins) and their new ally Darkling for a final encounter with the Brain Emperor and his ally Eterno the Tyrant. The heroes came upon them just as the Crusaders were battling the villians' android henchmen, the so-called Malevolent League of Juggernauts (androids bases on various early superheroes). The Comet was able to destroy most of the androids with blasts of his deadly eye-beams and aided the Mighty Crusaders in defeating the two villains. Shortly afterward, the Comet resigned from the team fearing that the homicidal tendencies that came with those original powers would return with a vengence (The Mighty Crusaders {second series} #3).

As of this writing, the Comet's whereabouts are unknown. But it's safe to say that the world hasn't seen the last of the man once called "the most astounding man on Earth".

 

Powers & Weapons:

The Comet can make great leaps in the air, and when he makes his eyes cross, two powerful beams come out and disintegrate whatever he looks at.

Checklist:

MLJ Comics:

Pep Comics 1-17
Special Comics 1

 

Mighty & Radio Comics:

Adventures of the Fly 30 (1st Silver Age app. 10/64), 31
Fly Man 32-34
Mighty Crusaders 1-6
Super Heroes vs. Super Villains 1

 

Red Circle & Archie Comics:
Comet 1, 2
Mighty Crusaders (vol. 2) 1-3, 9, 11-13
Original Shield 3, 4
Archie's Weird Mysteries 3, 14
Mighty Crusaders: Origin of a Super Team

 

TEXT: Kelso

ART BY: Carmine Infantino and Nino

MICRO BY: CopperAge, Darrin Wiltshire, Darren Wunder, Chris and Rik Offenberger

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